For some time now, the PAC-12 has been the laughing stock of the Power 5. The “Conference of Champions” has been anything but when it comes to football or basketball.
That reputation has been somewhat fair but things are starting to turn. Both Oregon and Utah look like possible participants in the College Football Playoffs and there are a number of hoops programs that will surprise and delight this season.
See Also: College Basketball Free Picks!
I was going to begin with a focus on Washington but they just lost to Tennessee in Toronto so let’s go alphabetical and start with…
The Wildcats fell hard last year. It didn’t help that they were right in the thick of everything with that FBI case but the season was well off the high standard of Arizona Basketball.
However, that did not stop coach Sean Miller from killing it in recruiting bringing in three highly touted frosh that are 1,2,3 in scoring to date. Point guard Nico Mannion is one of the most exciting players in the country and ‘Zona is already 4-0 SUATS.
Picks: I will be looking to back them in upcoming games at Baylor and home against Gonzaga.
The Ducks are also 4-0, though just 3-1 ATS. They took down big, bad Memphis and that was with potential top draft pick James Wiseman in the lineup. Oregon coach Dana Altman is doing his thing in terms of confusing opponents with his zone defenses and gluing together a team combined of vets, transfers, high and low level prospects in a way that few coaches even attempt. Senior PG Payton Pritchard is not elite but I would want him on my team.
Picks: I am excited to see this team take on Seton Hall on a neutral court and will be backing them at Michigan too.
When the season is done there might not be a more productive freshman combo than five star forwards Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart. So far that duo is averaging 28ppg and 14rpg on a team that already has an outright upset win against Baylor up in Alaska. They have come down to earth a little with a loss to Tennessee up in Toronto but that duo, along with Quade Green, formerly a five star recruit at Kentucky, running the point is going to win a lot of games.
Picks: They also have a home date with Gonzaga coming up and I will be looking to back them there, especially if they are an underdog.
McKinley Wright IV sounds like British royalty but instead he might be the best point guard in the conference. He is super quick and able to score in a lot of ways. Forward Tyler Bey has all the tools the NBA looks for in wings these days. The Buffs has lots of depth and size and a killer homecourt so they are going to win a lot of games this season.
Picks: Before PAC 12 play starts they will visit Kansas, a team they beat the last time they played ( in 2013). I am not sure they win again but they are going to be a heck of a feisty underdog I will be backing. Look for them to battle to the final possession.
As this is being written the Trojans are off a nice win at Nevada. Ever since Andy Enfield came in as coach the Trojans have been able to bring talent to campus but have not gotten much out of it. This year’s team could be a breakthrough thanks to big men Nick Rakocevic and Onyeka Okongwu upfront. Right now both are averaging double-doubles and I cannot recall a team that has ever done that. Freshman PG Ethan Anderson is not a shooter but he has figured out that there is nothing wrong with giving them the ball and getting out of the way.